The effectiveness of argumentation in science learning: A systematic review

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Background: The paradigm shift in science education, along with a number of research studies, calls for the implementation of argumentation in science classrooms. The value of argumentation has also been examined in some past research studies; however, few synthetic perspectives have been put forward. Objectives: The aim of this study is to systematically review the effectiveness of argumentation in science education. Specifically, the objectives of this study are twofold: mapping the results and characteristics of the research studies with regard to argumentation effectiveness in science education, and evaluating the strength of the evidence of target research studies. Methodology: English journal articles and dissertations published in four electronic data-bases, EBSCO, Pro-quest, the British Education Index, and the Australia Education Index, were obtained using the pre-determined keywords, argument*, science, student, and learn*, from their inception to December 2012. The searching initially yielded 2,768 studies. All these research studies were examined according to both exclusion and inclusion criteria by two independent reviewers. Then, the included studies were mapped and assessed using measuring instruments by the two reviewers independently. Results: A total of 24 studies satisfied the inclusion criteria. All these research studies reported that argumentation can stimulate students’ science learning in different dimensions, such as: scientific conceptual understanding, thinking skills, understandings of the nature of science, and argumentation skills. However, the quality of evidence in the target studies is not strong enough. Less than one third of the studies were classified as high-quality studies, meaning that in most selected research studies, the evidence to prove the positive effectiveness of argumentation in science education is relatively weak. Conclusions: Argumentation does impact students’ science learning. However, more high quality evidence must be provided in this area in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


Xie, Q., & So, W. W.-m. (2013, July).The effectiveness of argumentation in science learning: A systematic review. Paper presented at the 3rd International Conference of East-Asian Association for Science Education, The Hong Kong Institute of Education, China.


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